Do you know who they are?
Sadly, many business owners don’t know who their audience is. A local Mom-and-Pop variety store may be entirely unaware of who they should be targeting.
So step one: figure out who your customers are.
Seems silly, but why do all sorts of research and do little more than guess when you can find out for sure? Simply say, “Oh by the way, I was just wondering where you spend your time online. Do you have a favorite social network?”
Maybe your audience isn’t online, and therefore you don’t need to spend time there. You’ll find out pretty quickly where most of them lie: whether it’s on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or maybe a niche social media site that you’ve never even heard of. Asking is the easiest way to find out – and it’s far easier than guessing.
Be where your people are
After you find out where people are…go there. They may be on multiple channels, and that doesn’t mean you have to devote your time to all of them. Pick one if that’s all the time your resources allow; but sign up for all of them.
For the right kind of business (and audience), MySpace could be lethal (in a good way). For musicians and new bands, MySpace has been a huge key to success.
With the ability, unlike most social networks, to customize backgrounds and profiles, MySpace is truly a brandable network.
Create your personal profile first, then a business fan page. Starting suggesting that friends fan your business, and then start reaching out beyond your friends. You can search for specific keywords within your network; or simply keywords within profiles – depending on privacy settings.
Facebook ads are another way to gain fans. Right now, they’re ultra-targeted and relatively cheap per click.
If your customer base is on Twitter, sign up and build out your profile (including a custom background). Search for people you already know and start following them. Then go to Twitter Search and find some gurus in your industry by searching for keywords in your line of business. Check out Nearby Tweets for tweeps in your area and start following them.
Download an app like TweetDeck and track keywords in either your industry or your physical location. By doing this, you’ll no longer need to search constantly on Nearby Tweets or a similar geo-locating tool. Also, make sure you track your business name. That way, if someone talks about you (positive or negative), you’ll be right there, ready to respond accordingly.
If your audience is on LinkedIn, you should be too! Create a personal profile page, along with a business profile page. Then make sure everyone in your organization is on LinkedIn and become connected with them. Then, look for your audience. Start with people you know.
Begin joining groups – even creating some around your line of work. Be sure to check the Answers section in order to become the expert in your industry. Both Groups and Answers are great places to find people to become connected with.
You’re not done yet
Now that you’ve found your audience, make sure you continue to search for new fans, friends, connections, and followers constantly. Consistently engage with these people – no matter what network you’re on.